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Pictures Worth a Thousand Words: Noncommercial Tobacco Content in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Press

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Smoking prevalence in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community is higher than in the mainstream population. The reason is undetermined; however, normalization of tobacco use in the media has been shown to affect smoking rates. To explore whether this might be a factor in the LGB community, we examined noncommercial imagery and text relating to tobacco and smoking in LGB magazines and newspapers. Tobacco-related images were frequent and overwhelmingly positive or neutral about tobacco use. Images frequently associated smoking with celebrities. Text items unrelated to tobacco were often illustrated with smoking imagery. Text items about tobacco were likely to be critical of tobacco use; however, there were three times as many images as text items. The number of image items was not accounted for by the number of text items: nearly three quarters of all tobacco-related images (73.8%) were unassociated with relevant text. Tobacco imagery is pervasive in LGB publications. The predominant message about tobacco use in the LGB press is positive or neutral; tobacco is often glamorized. Noncommercial print images of smoking may normalize it, as movie product placement does. Media advocacy approaches could counter normalization of smoking in LGB-specific media.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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